Drake University Law School
Nestled in the heart of Des Moines, Drake University School of Law is one of only two law schools in the state, alongside the University of Iowa at Iowa City. Though only ranked in the third tier by U.S. News and World Report, Drake can be a solid option for students interested in remaining in Iowa to practice law.
Admissions & tuition
Drake's statistics can be somewhat misleading. The school's admissions percentage is a rather high 53.3%: of the 1078 applicants, 575 were offered spots. Out of those 575, 150 decided to attend - making the matriculation rate a mere 26%, again an unimpressive number. However, when looking at the grades and scores of those attending, Drake's star burns a little more brightly. For the full-time class The middle 50th percentiles for LSAT were 153-158; for GPA, 3.12-3.64. Both of these statistics make Drake one of the more competitive schools in the third tier.
Being a private school, Drake charges both Iowans and non-Iowans the same tuition rate: $31,186, as of 2009-2010. Though on the cheaper side for a private school, said tuition is certainly more than most students can afford to pay out of pocket. With a median grant aid-package of only $14, 035, Drake students leave school with an average debt of $85,905 - a daunting figure, especially since Drake offers no sort of loan repayment assistance program to assist graduates who secure low-paying jobs.
Like most of its tier three peers, the first year at Drake law is predetermined; students take the typical Contracts I&II, Civil Procedure I&II, Torts, Criminal Law, Property, Constitutional Law, and Legal Research and Writing courses. In addition, first year Drake students take (for no credit) a fall Introduction to Law and spring Trial Practicum course. After the first year, students enjoy a great deal of freedom: only Constitutional Law II, Evidence, and Legal ethics and professional responsibility are required. Drake offers a wide variety of courses, including clinics and internships.
From an outside perspective, Drake is seen as a quality institution: it's 2.9/5 assessment by lawyers/judges ties with several other institutions as the second highest in the third tier, behind only Marquette. The Drake Law Review, the school's flagship journal, has spent four as one of the top 30 in the country, based on the number of times courts have cited its articles. Drake offers its students the opportunity to earn, concurrent with their J.D, either an M.B.A. or M.P.A.
Quality of life
Though hardly Manhattan, life in Des Moines is not nearly as dull as many seem to think. The greater metropolitan area boasts a population of a little over half a million, and the city's residents enjoy opera houses, museums, theme parks, historical landmarks, and much more. Living in Des Moines is also inexpensive, a mere 80% of the national average. Housing (one of a law student's greatest expenses, after school itself) is particularly affordable.
One potential drawback to life at Drake: the homogeneity of the student body. Though there is roughly an even split between men (~57%) and women (~43%), the school is nearly 74% white. The largest non-white group at the school, African-American, comprises a mere 6.4% of the enrolled. Also, only 1.5% of students are international. Though Drake remains committed to diversity, these statistics are certainly something to keep in mind.
Drake is also one of the country's smallest law schools, with a total enrollment of only 467 students. To some, the ideas of small classes and more personal interaction with professors (student-to-faculty ratio of 14.5) are appealing. However, others may have a hard time finding like-minded peers. The issue is truly one of personality and preference.
Life after graduation
In this area, Drake greatly outstrips its tier three peers. With 100% of graduates reporting, 96.8 are employed within 9 months of graduation - a statistic rivaling many schools in the first tier. The great majority (70.3%) of graduates stay in Iowa and the surrounding states to begin their legal careers, though Drake places at least a few students in every region of the country. Being one of only two law schools in the state of Iowa has its advantages, especially when one considers that Forbes recently ranked Des Moines the seventh best place for businesses and careers.
Like most schools outside of the top tier, most Drake graduates find themselves working in the private sector: 51% for law firms, 20% for business/industry. A high 12% work for the government, and the school's alumni regularly hold Iowa's most prestigious offices. 6% of graduates end up working in public interest, again a large portion when compared to Drake's peer schools. Academia and clerkships still remain elusive, however: 2% of grads practice in the former, and a mere 1.7% clerk for an article III federal judge.
Successful return on investment is never guaranteed, particularly when one drops to the third tier. Drake has its share of issues - the school is not particularly diverse and leaves graduates deep in debt. However, for one interested in living and practicing in Des Moines (or anywhere in Iowa), the school provides excellent job prospects, both in the private and public sector.
Drake University School of Law
2507 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311
Ranking: Tier 3
Entering class size: 115 (FT), 6 (PT)
Median LSAT: 155 (FT), 156 (PT)
Median GPA: 3.42 (FT), 3.41 (PT)
Full-Time Tuition and Fees: $36,662
Percentage Employed in Long-term, Full-time Legal Jobs Within 9 Months of Graduation: 54.3%
Median Private-Sector Salary: $65,375 (Class of 2008, 27% reporting)